I’m a teacher, and I also have young children who are about to start school. I occasionally tutor other teachers to help them pass their state exams for certification. Some of these people scare the crap out of me, especially considering the fact that they’re going to be teaching my kids in a couple years. They’re angry about having to be tested in the first place, so their attitudes suck. Frankly, I would be angry, too, if I had no concept of basic mathematics at the age of 30. I feel morally conflicted about tutoring these folks because I just don’t think there’s a good chance that they’ll become successful educators.
During my short time as a teacher, I learned some valuable lessons: 1.) Children will sneak into the parking lot and peek through your car windows, so don’t leave anything on the front seat that you don’t want them to see. 2.) Never offer to chaperone a junior-high dance. 3.) Parents scream at you when you give their children bad grades.
I also learned something, I think, at some point, about students rising to meet your expectations, and that by pushing your students, you can help them see the possibilities. So maybe you should go to tutoring next week, guns blazing (please, not literally), and attack this problem all Lean On Me/Dangerous Minds/Stand And Deliver/To Sir, With Love.
They’re going to teach eventually, whether you help them with math or not, so you might as well try and get them a little fired up about it.